Education column: Youth creating ‘genteel’ app

“I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on the frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words. When I was a boy, we were taught to be discrete and respectful of elders, but the present youth…”

Well, you get the idea. Although these words are attributed to Hesiod, father of Greek didactic poetry, from around 700 B.C., they reflect the opinions of many adults through the ages in observing the youth of the day.

Last week I saw and heard evidence to the contrary at our local high school. I sat and listened in amazement to a group of young men, sophomore students, at Clovis High School.

With little encouragement, they animatedly told me about how they believed today’s world was a “self-absorbed, me culture” with too few concerned with ideals and things for the greater good. They described how so many valuable things seem no longer valued; things like appropriate behavior and proper grooming, in addition to things like courtesy and integrity and on and on. Not what you hear every day from our youth.

These are students of Corey Pickett, teacher of gifted students at Clovis High School, as well as basketball coach, who was sharing some of the unique activities taking place in his classroom. Last fall Pickett was awarded a $4,946 grant he had written for the Clovis Municipal Schools Education Foundation for his “Music Media Technology” (http://www.clovis-schools.org/foundation/index.html).

He showed me the equipment purchased with the grant monies and explained what kinds of enrichment activities he was doing and planning to do with his gifted students. In addition to the music media projects, another of the projects is software development, which is what this group of young men had been describing to me.

These 10th graders are creating a software application for handheld mobile devices, such as iPods or iPads. The “app” will be called “Neo-Gentry” and the theory behind it is what they’d been describing to me: To reintroduce practical skills and knowledge related to being a “gentleman.” They’ve done their own research and have even developed their own coat of arms.

They’ll provide tips on grooming, such as different ways to tie a tie; how not to wear white socks with a dress suit, and so on. There will be tips on appropriate behaviors these young men feel have fallen by the wayside; common courtesies, such as standing up when a lady enters a room. They have all sorts of great ideas for gentlemanly behavior repackaged for today’s world.

At one point during the course of their research, they invited a group of teachers to a function they hosted in their classroom. These young men dressed up in suits and served refreshments and were positively chivalrous, much to the surprise and delight of the teachers. As part of their ongoing research they’ve invited Paul Tankersley of the local men’s clothiers to come and speak to them this Friday. What was that about the youth of today?

Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy is the Instructional Technology Coordinator for the Clovis Municipal Schools and can be reached at cindy.kleyn-kennedy@clovis-schools.org